* Was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008
* Member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
* Supports pathway-to-citizenship for illegal aliens
* Supports sanctuary cities, the DREAM Act, and DACA
* Supports the Iran Nuclear Deal
Ben Ray Lujan Jr. was born in Nambe, New Mexico, on June 7, 1972. He attended the University of New Mexico from 1990-95 and eventually earned a BA in business administration from New Mexico Highlands University in 2007. His father, the late Ben Lujan Sr., was a Democrat in the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1975 until his death in 2012.
Lujan (Jr.) served as chairman of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission from 2005-08. In that position, he signed on to the Joint Action Framework on Climate Change, which sought to regulate energy utilities in western states as a means of combating global warming — an objective founded upon the premise that the greenhouse gases associated with human industrial activity have a potentially catastrophic effect on the Earth’s environment. Lujan also served stints as director of administrative services and chief financial officer at the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, and as deputy treasurer of the State of New Mexico.
In 2008, the voters of New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District elected Lujan to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he continues to serve as a Democratic member of both the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). One of his chief legislative priorities is to work for the passage of “comprehensive immigration reform” that provides a pathway-to-citizenship for illegal aliens.
In the summer of 2014, when tens of thousands of minors from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were illegally flooding across the Mexican border and into a number of southern U.S. states, Lujan and the CHC urged Congress to appropriate funds to address “this important issue of children and families arriving at our border, which is only further exacerbated by the lack of comprehensive immigration reform.”
Lujan has endorsed the policies of sanctuary cities, where illegal aliens are protected by local governments that refuse to cooperate with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. When President Donald Trump, in January 2017, issued an executive order calling for the federal government to withhold public funds from such cities, Lujan characterized Trump’s order as “an overreach” that would “make undocumented residents who are victims of heinous crimes like rape or abuse less likely to report those incidents,” for fear that they might be apprehended and deported by law-enforcement authorities. Five months later, Lujan voted against a House bill authorizing the Justice and Homeland Security departments to withhold certain federal payments to state and local jurisdictions that failed to comply with federal immigration detainers. He also voted against a bill that called for stiffer penalties for convicted criminals who illegally return to the U.S. after having been deported.
When President Trump issued a January 2017 executive order aiming to place a temporary moratorium on the issuance of visas for people seeking to travel to the United States from seven majority-Muslim nations that were known to be hotbeds of Islamic terrorism, Lujan condemned the president’s policy as “reckless, dangerous, and unconstitutional.” “President Trump has not only hardened his heart against the obvious suffering of refugees fleeing persecution, destruction and carnage in their homeland,” said the congressman, but “he also ignores the lessons of history. Last century, as Jews were being systematically murdered in Europe, the U.S. had a chance to admit those fleeing the Holocaust, and did virtually nothing. History will not judge the Trump administration favorably for slamming the door in the face of refugees of this century who are desperately trying to keep themselves and their families alive. The President’s move could hamper our nation in the fight against terrorism and will degrade our standing in the eyes of the world.”
Lujan is a strong supporter of the DREAM Act, legislation that aims to legalize and eventually naturalize a large number of so-called “Dreamers” — i.e., illegal-alien teens and young adults who first came to the United States as minors. By contrast, he opposes President Trump’s call for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which he depicts as an “ill-conceived, impractical and ineffective” proposal that would “diver[t] billions of taxpayer dollars” from other vital government programs.
Lujan is a staunch backer of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which began with a 2012 executive action temporarily protecting hundreds of thousands of young illegal aliens from deportation. He also supports the provisions of Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) executive action of 2014, which offered similar protection to several million additional illegals.
In 2015, Lujan spoke out in favor of the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal — an accord whereby the Obama administration (and the governments of five other nations) agreed to allow the Islamist regime in Tehran to enrich uranium, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and be guaranteed of a near-zero breakout time to the construction of a nuclear bomb approximately a decade thereafter. “I believe that supporting the [agreement] represents the only viable and responsible option to hold Iran accountable and to halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” said Lujan. Three years later, the congressman impugned President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the deal, asserting that Trump’s move represented an abdication of “U.S. leadership on the international stage.”
On January 27, 2022, Lujan checked himself into a Santa Fe hospital after experiencing dizziness and fatigue. He later learned that he had suffered a stroke, and he underwent decompressive surgery. Politico.com speculated about the political ramifications of Lujan’s condition:
“Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s stroke diagnosis shocked the Democratic caucus Tuesday, raising the possibility the party could lose their slim working majority for the near future. While the 49-year-old New Mexico Democrat is expected to make a full recovery, no one knew when he would return to the evenly divided Senate, or what it means for the immediate agenda…. Luján’s unexpected medical condition comes at a moment when Senate Democrats simply don’t have any votes to spare to pass party priorities, including reviving their social spending bill and now confirming a Supreme Court justice. The latest news could leave Democrats reliant on Republican votes to move forward on nominees and other priorities.”
In md-February 2022, Luján announced that he expected to return to Washington in time to vote for President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee after recovering from his January 27th stroke. “I’m doing well. I’m strong. I’m back on the road to recovery, and I’m going to make a full recovery,” he said in a video statement. “I’m going to walk out of here, I’m going to beat this, and I’m going to be stronger once I come out.” “Now I’m proud to report, then I’ll be back on the floor of the United States Senate in just a few short weeks to vote on important legislation and to consider a Supreme Court nominee,” Luján added.
For an overview of Lujan’s voting record on an array of key issues, click here.
Lujan is a distant cousin of New Mexico Congresswoman (and fellow CHC member) Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Further Reading: “Ben Lujan Jr’s Biography” (Votesmart.org).